There's a silent suffering that takes place when you're a bereaved parent. A suffering that occurs when you miss your child, but convince yourself no one else wants to hear about it. Again. I've not only been missing Harlynn, but experiencing a nostalgic sense of her absence. The summer air, the trips to the cemetery, the sounds, sights, smells - they all transport me emotionally to this time last year. What I was doing, experiencing, learning. It's not something I can aptly explain, so I experience it quietly. Silently. Alone.
This morning, I dressed Little Man in a very special onesie. It was given to him by the very first family I visited as a representative of Harlynn's Heart. I put it on him, it fit, and I got a little misty eyed. He began to smile so big, and so adorably, however, I couldn't stay choked up for long. Until....well....he stared directly over my shoulder. Quizzically at first, then began to smile. Not just any smile, but a huge, impressive smile. I welled up again and asked, "Can you see her? Is she here?" He does that once in a while, where he will peer beyond me and smile at something - someone? - else. I search his eyes for an angelic reflection and don't see one. What does he always find to glance at? Granted, it could just be him being a baby and directing his attention to nothing in particular, but I have a hard time believing the wall would be more entertaining than my goofy faces.
I often wonder how I'll breach the subject with him when he's older. How will we tell him he has two older sisters, but one of them died? So much of me believes strongly he already knows, or senses it. But how do we actually tell him? "Don't rub yogurt in your hair, and by the way, your sister Harlynn died in mommy's tummy." Lord, give me the right words at the right time. Give him the understanding when he's ready. When we're all ready.
These last couple of weeks, I have been missing Harlynn pretty intensely. I don't want to "burden" anyone with it, and of course, everyone is interested in Little Man, not his mama's unresolved emotional state. And who can blame them? It's so old hat to be sad isn't it? I don't feel like it is. I suppose I've worn out the welcome in some other's timelines, however. And really, Little Man is adorable and charming and captivating - I am definitely interested in him, and can't fault others for the same. But I do miss his sister.
Little Miss has been spending a lot of time completely infatuated with herself lately. She'll sit in front of our full length mirror, or she'll grab my hand-held mirror and stare into it at herself. Her reflection has become her "sister, Addison". Or some days her "sister's" name is Olivia. She carries on both sides of the conversation. It's precious and hilarious. And heartbreaking. She has to pretend she has a sister. That should not be. She should have her sister here to play with. To imagine with. To carry on conversations with. As imaginative as she is, and as entertaining as these conversational interactions are to listen to, it still tugs at my heart. Oh Little Miss, I'm so sorry you have to pretend to have a sister to do these things with. I'm so, so sorry.
Will she always remember coming into the hospital room to meet her sister? How uncomfortable she was when she realized we were crying and sad and Harlynn would never move, cry, or open her eyes? Will she ever ask me to recount the events of that day, or the days after? Or will it just be another experience she had as a child, with the full depth of significance eventually getting lost in her distant memory? Am I projecting too many of my own expectations on to her by wanting so desperately for her to always remember, know, and love her baby sister?
I suffer silently. These questions, these thoughts, and one million more, race through my mind continually. There are no answers, though. There is no explaining how the trees rustling remind me of the night we let balloons go, and watched them catch in the tree across the street. Or how the butterfly that hung around our home had me convinced it wasn't 'just' a butterfly. Or how I long to catch a heavenly reflection in the whites of my son's eyes as he smiles mysteriously past me.
Tonight, I had a gal's date. I was meeting a couple of girlfriends for dinner and encouragement. We share some of the same interests and goals and have started meeting together every few weeks to spur one another on and share our insights and dreams. I wore purple tonight since I've been missing Harlynn so much. As one of my friends walked in, she handed me a bag and said, "This is for you. For later." I wanted to open it then, but something told me, I sensed, I needed to wait. I set it to the side, and we had great conversation over dinner. I was so energized and refreshed, and I just really look forward to my "writer's night out" as I've dubbed it.
Afterward, we parted ways and I walked to the car. Once inside, I peered inside the bag to see its contents. Everything inside, including the tissue paper, was purple. The card said she wanted me to know she thought of Harlynn often. The thoughtfulness and the (spirit led!) timing of it all, moved me to tears. She had no idea the huge impact her small gesture would have on me. She had no idea I've been suffering silently. She had no idea how much I needed to read those words, to see, touch, and hold those purple items. She had no idea how I've been longing for purple nail polish, but haven't bought myself any. And now I don't have to. She had no idea. But someone did. And after dinner tonight, I crumpled into a puddle behind my steering wheel in that downtown parking space. It was no coincidence we met for dinner tonight and she brought a little something for me. I don't believe in coincidences.
I suffer silently sometimes. I miss Harlynn so very much. I still can't believe in this day and age, my husband and I have lived through the death of our baby. It doesn't seem possible at times. It seems like a bad dream. Like it didn't really happen, because babies don't really die.... I'm realizing, slowly, in those moments when I fight desperately to ensure my daughter is remembered, I'm not forgotten about. I'm not abandoned. I'm not dismissed. I may think I suffer alone and silently, but I've got a band of support and encouragement even I can't fully comprehend. When I suffer silently, there is a silent army all around me, making sure I'm taken care of.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them. ~ Psalm 34:7